Departure Day

I am writing this just before I pull the zippers closed for my trek to the airport and then my travel home. It is another beautiful day with minimal clouds in the sky. If I could bottle the warmth and climate and bring it back with me to Connecticut, I would indeed.
We had a very successful field season with 11 hours of data recorded with the MVA.

Last Session for this Field Season

We were up and out and then in early on Friday, as is usual. I was in the water by 6:40 am but the visibility was not cooperating – very silty and so the distance was only about 4 meters for me to see or confirm there was a dolphin in view. They had to be within 2-3 m for me to identify them! But, a few of the dolphins were socially active and we recorded some neat sounds – whistles and click trains.

A short session – really low visibility and agitated dolphins

A cloudless day greeted us Friday as we took the taxi boat to Bailey’s Key. We were set for another hour session, but the dolphins had other plans. They were into their own social games with the males chasing each other around. There was lots of leaping above the surface and buzzes heard below. French, Ken and Ronnie were all quite pushy and mouthy on my fins.

Ronnie’s squawks and lots of other social behavior

We conducted an hour data collection session Thursday morning that had great underwater visibility, socially interacting dolphins (mostly with each other and not my fins!), and both the MVA and DTag in use. We captured many click trains and even some burst pulses. The following link is a sample of a burst pulse series from Ronnie. {audio}../podcast/RonnieBuzz.mp3{/audio} He had been investigating my fins and circle swimming around me. Then, he swam in front of me and looped back with the first 4 short bursts followed by the longer 3 calls.

Lots of Data Collection Today – with a DTag and the MVA

Wednesday’s morning session brought 30 minutes of video of socially active dolphins. Maury and Bill were observed together often with Mika’s calf hanging close to Maury and sometimes positioning himself between Maury and Bill. It was the least active I have seen Maury in several mornings – she just seemed content to swim next to Bill. Hector, Han and Anthony, on the other hand, were a bit more rambunctious and were rolling all over each other. Mrs. B and Cedena kept their calves close as usual.

One Hour Underwater & Several Hours for Analysis of Video

Tuesday was a good day with a one hour session in the early morning for data collection. We have lucked out with the weather; the morning sky was mostly clear and the sun brightened the view underwater early on. The underwater visibility continued to be EXCELLENT! Ronnie again had new rake marks on his back but that seems nothing new since he is still the instigator in the group.

LOTS of data from socially interactive dolphins in clear water!

I was in the water twice on Monday for a 30 min session (6:30 AM) and then a 60 min session (11:00 AM). The underwater visibility was 10 meters plus and it was clear with some sun, so it was also bright! The dolphins were quite social and very interactive with one another. On my first entry, Mika had Gracie’s calf! Mika’s calf was nowhere to be seen until I spotted Ronnie chasing him.

Sunday – a day of football and rest, except for DCP’s dolphin researchers!

We had two morning data collection sessions – one at 6:30 and one at 10 a.m. The sky had a layer of cumulus clouds on the northern horizon which dropped a bit of rain on us early in the morning, but the later morning session had bright sun. The wind and current joined the sun making for an exercise-filled underwater session. The dolphins were very vocal early and Mika had Gracie’s calf when I entered. Mika’s calf was nowhere that I could see until about 20 min into the session when he was with mom again.

Shift Change – the students depart Saturday and two others arrive

We were able to get one more session of data collection in this morning (early again) before Amanda, Amber, Kristin and Sarah had to finish packing their gear. The dolphins were active and vocal and provided a nice salute to our student observers. Even though the field portion of their class on animal behavior is complete, each student now has the task of reviewing and processing the observational data they collected and preparing a paper that includes their data and a literature review on their topics.

The next team includes Penn and Wu-Jung.